I love it when people sing along with my songs. This month I share an old hymn that I reworked a bit and sang at Ellen Schmidt’s open mike last week. It is a great song to end an evening of shared music and poetry. Join us, and we’ll sing it together in the kitchen!
Tom at the Roslindale Open Mike. Photo by Neal Braverman
On Thursday, April 5th I will be hosting a new music venue in my home town of Dedham. Whenever I pass the Paradise Cafe, I imagine live acoustic music there. With a warm fireplace to greet you, and soft chairs and tables where you can relax and enjoy reasonably priced sandwiches, coffee and sweets with friends all it needs is some live local music. On first Thursdays Dedham Square businesses stay open a little later than normal and many of them offer special incentives for customers. So if this goes well, we might make it a monthly series. For this first session, I have invited my daughter Mally Smith to join me. We may also have a few other musical friends too. Please save the date! We’ll be playing music from 6:30 pm until closing at 8:30 pm. You’ll get home for your normal bed time! Paradise Cafe, 565 High St, Dedham, MA 02026.
This Month’s Music
“The Meeting is O’er”
Traditional. New music and words by Tom Smith
Click the image above to play the video.
I love singing with others. For me, it is a kind of religious experience – in the best sense. It can be a kind of community amplifier. It can also provide some respite from the day’s troubles to make room for a closeness with something greater than the solitary me, which is why I describe it as religious.
The Meeting is O’er (sometimes called ‘The Farewell Song’) reminds me a little of the old days when the song Kum Ba Ya was new to me. Today, Kum Bay Ya has become a kind of denigrating adjective that folksingers often try to avoid. For example, I have heard the expression “His songs are so kum bay ya”, meaning that the songs are common, old fashioned, simple or shallow. My song this month is indeed simple, but I hope that it is uncommon enough so that you can appreciate the goodness of something so simple. I learned it from my friend and mentor, Bill Bonyun in the early 1970’s. Most likely, he learned it from his friends Frank and Anne Warner, the great scholars of American folk songs who collected it from Buna Hicks of Beech Mountain, North Carolina. Buna called it “Fathers Now Our Meeting Is Over”. She sang a different melody with lyrics that rotated through “fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters”. I have taken the liberty to make up a new melody and sing “brothers, sisters, poets and singers”.
Here is a sweet little video of the song which sounds very much like the way I originally learned it from Bill Bonyun. I love the setting in which my new Youtube friends Bob and Eileen Hammell from Aurora, Colorado share this old song – a simple living room, seated on the piano bench, playing an autoharp and a mandolin Bob made himself. I would have liked to hear them sing the rest of the song.
Thank you for listening, and for joining me in the kitchen this month. Feel free to forward this to a friend whom you think would enjoy it. There is always plenty of room in the kitchen for newcomers.
(If so inclined, I invite you to leave a comment by scrolling to the end of this page.)
March 1, Thursday, 7:30 pm Framingham, MA I will do the feature set at Dan Cloutier’s folk open mike at Amazing Things Arts Center. Click for details
March 10, Saturday, 8:00 pm Cambridge, MA After a few decades hiatus, I return to the Nameless Coffeehouse, joining my daughter Mally Smith and fellow Birch Beer Records artists Dan Cloutier, Kim Jennings, Levi Schmidt. Click for details
April 1, Sunday, 7:30 pm Roslindale, MA I open for ‘New England Weather’, to benefit the Roslindale Congragtional Church. Click for details
April 8, Sunday, 7:30 pm Westford, MA Featuring at the Parish Center for the Arts. Click for details
April 22, Sunday, 10:00 am Mansfield, MA Sharing a set with good friends Deb O’Hanlon and Peter Fischman at the New England Folk Festival. Click for details
April 27, Friday, 7:00 pm Groton, MA Opening for Sam Bayer at the Main Street Cafe open mic. Click for details
Click to view all upcoming shows.
Featured Non-Profit: Roslindale Congregational Church
I first became of aware of the Roslindale Congregational Church when my friend Neal Braverman started an open mike there. It takes place on the second and fourth Mondays of every month. When you visit this open mike, you will be struck by how open and welcoming it is. There is no cover charge, thanks to the generosity of the church. And Neal always shows up with plenty of refreshments that somehow just magically appear. I always leave feeling the warmth of this place. The open mike is only one of several great community outreach activities sponsored by the church. So when Neal told me that the church needed some financial assistance I jumped at the suggestion to do a benefit. I hope that many of my Boston area friends will join me on April 1st when I will open for the wonderful folk group New England Weather (Kathy Danielson, Mike Delaney, Angela Marseglia, Tom Maynard, and Ken Porter). Collectively they’ve produced five CDs and released “A Little Sun, A Little Rain”, a fifteen song disk from the whole group. Your $10 admission will go to a great cause. The Roslindale Congregational Church, 25 Cummins Highway Roslindale, MA 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm